Adam Silver knows ongoing Altitude/Comcast dispute is an issue needing a fix

Jun 3, 2023, 8:51 AM

Adam Silver...

Photo by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

DENVER—Twice in two days NBA commissioner Adam Silver took to a microphone to voice his thoughts on the ongoing Comcast dispute with Altitude TV.

Comcast is the main television provider in the state of Colorado and it hasn’t been able to agree on a carriage deal with regional sports network Altitude TV for years. Altitude, which is the home to Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Mammoth and used to broadcast Colorado Rapids games too, isn’t able to be viewed by over 90% of Denver and this has been the case since 2019.

Altitude in turn has sued Comcast, accusing the cable company of violating antitrust laws. The two sides settled in early March but the blackout remained. Dish has also left the Kroenke Sports and Entreatment-owned Altitude off its lineup. KSE of course, owns all the teams that Altitude broadcasts.

“The league office has tried to mediate several times between the parties. It’s a commercial dispute. There hasn’t been a simple resolution to it,” Silver said ahead of Game 1 of the NBA Finals. “I know there’s no doubt it’s bad for fans, of course, and the team recognizes that. It’s my hope, though, and one of the things that’s changed considerably since this dispute has started is the advent of many more streaming platforms, better digital streaming technology.”

Silver followed up by criticizing the RSN model, which has fallen apart in recent years across the country. Earlier this week the main RSN in San Deigo went belly up and other Denver area RSN AT&T Sports Net Rocky Mountain is expected to cease operations at the end of the Colorado Rockies season.

“It frustrates me because I think it’s a broken economic model where you have demand and the supply isn’t there, especially with a leading No. 1 seed team, Finals-caliber team here in Denver, the notion that local fans can’t watch the games — I have, incidentally, a brother who lives in Boulder, so I hear from him and his family all the time,” Silver said. “It makes no sense. It’s on us to fix it.”

The good news for Nuggets fans is this is big time on the NBA’s radar, and they are working on creative solutions. The bad news is it could realistically be another two years before there’s a solution.

“As we now embark on our negotiations for our new, what we used to call our national deals, we have two years left with our existing partners,” Silver said. “It’s a problem we have to fix.”

Silver says he hopes that via digital platforms fans anywhere—no matter what—will be able to access all games in one place one day.

Silver did voice that if there is a change with existing partners the Nuggets and therefore the Avs could land back on TV in most Denver households but that might be wishful thinking given how long the dispute has lasted.

“We don’t have control, right now, of the local rights of the Denver Nuggets, but what I was referring to is we sit in what is now a very different media paradigm from when this dispute began at the advent and the explosive growth of streaming services and I think the more rapid decline of conventional cable than people were predicting,” he said on Friday to the Denver Post after an NBA Cares ceremony at the Arthur E. Johnson Boys & Girls Club in Denver, “As we are trying to design what a new approach should be to see NBA games, the part that is on us is taking into account how a local fan is able to watch as well. As opposed to historically we’ve had local games and national games, to me, I think from a fan standpoint, they’re certainly not making those distinctions.”

It seems that the days of having one place to watch most Colorado sports teams are gone. Instead, like most of your entertainment options nowadays, sports soon will be split across many platforms and services—making it harder and ultimately more expensive for fans to cheer on all their local teams from the sofa.


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Adam Silver knows ongoing Altitude/Comcast dispute is an issue needing a fix